Level3 tries cell-phone style billing scam on customers

Gadi Evron ge at linuxbox.org
Thu Jul 31 17:31:03 UTC 2008

On Thu, 31 Jul 2008, Patrick Giagnocavo wrote:
> Today I looked at my most recent bill from Level3.
> They are now assessing a 2.5% surcharge, which is listed as "Taxes" on the 
> bandwidth bill I have.  In the state of PA, telecoms services are explicitly 
> not taxable.
> When you call Level3 billing, they admit in their recorded message it is not 
> a tax at all, but a surcharge, and if you want to dispute it you are supposed 
> to quote back their own contract terms to them via email (i.e. you cannot 
> reach a human).
> I would expect this kind of scamminess from Verizon's cell-phone billing, but 
> a contract is a contract and I can see no provision for arbitrarily tacking 
> on fees, illegally labeling them as "taxes" and then putting the onus on you 
> to prove that they can't charge you.
> Anyone else seeing this same behavior from Level3?
> (It seems that the larger a telecom company gets, the more they want to act 
> like a scum-sucking ILEC.)

I wouldn't automatically assume malice here, although it is tempting. 
Further, escalating past low-level support or machines in corporate 
america is difficult and infuriating, but we know that.

In Israel we have a name for such methods: shitat matzliach.
Loosely translated it means "the succeeding method". You try something, 
see if it works. Then try something a little bit less, see if it works, 
and so on.

How many folks do you think:
1. Notice this irregularity.
2. Call.
3. Endure the process of complaining, staying on the phoen for hours and 
emailing in the contract?

And these are just the steps you went through so far.


> --Patrick

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